Monday, October 17, 2011

Anti-Heroes 101: Bad Boy with Potential

Last week we kicked off my series on writing anti-heroes with The Mysterious Bad Boy post. 

The Dark Quality:
Today we are touching on...the Bad Boy With Potential.  He's talented and insightful and if it wasn't for the aimless streak, a seriously successful dude. This is the amazing artist, the genius in the rough, or the untapped hero. 

For whatever reason. For instance; a guilty past  where he doesn't feel he deserves success. He is hiding or avoiding his true calling.

The Appeal:
So this is the reverse of the princess in the tower. This is a guy that needs to be rescued from himself. He must be written as a true talent  with an amazing personality that is both humble and noble or he'll just come off as a slacker. 

Whatever is holding him back should appear insurmountable at first. And there has to be a concrete reason why he is without direction. We see this a lot in romantic comedies where there are two potential suitors. One is highly successful, but flawed and the other is the nice guy that hasn't really hit his stride yet.

The Set Up:
Our Bad Boy with Potential is often set up as the hunky room mate or co-worker with the kick back attitude. He is often the confidant to the frazzled heroine as she pursues the wrong guy for her. One that this guy knows will break her heart. He can also be the childhood friend, think Sweet Home Alabama's Josh Lucas.

Overlooking this guy can lead to some great conflict for your heroine. Not understanding her attraction to someone so outside of what she thinks she needs.  He can also harbor an old flame for her and that can cause tension between them when its clear she wants another.  There are a lot a great opportunities for inner conflict with this couple.

Your heroine must have a maternal quality for this recipe to work. Whether its the fact that she's known him forever and therefore knows his heart is noble or her own experience with mothering siblings, she has to have the nurture quality to see the potential.

The Reward:
With every bad boy story line, you need to have that moment of redemption. That scene where all the things he's done or said finally make sense. Usually ten chapters in or so, the time you need to supply the first major disaster.

Show his hidden strength and nobility to the reader. Does he take the high road in a confrontation with his rival, and doesn't take credit for that? Does she see him treating someone who can do nothing for him with honor and respect?  Set up a scenario in which the successful man and he deal with a situation in opposing ways and make your Bad Boy with Potential come out the better man.

Make who he is and how he truly loves her the most pure and cherishing of the two suitors.  The reward is that he really knows her and loves her despite her flaws. That his is a better, more substantial man. Make his talent or potential somehow relate to her...

Remember in Sweet Home Alabama where she discovers the lightning glass is how he first became successful and that it was something they discovered together in their youth?  That has a deeper connection that will resonate with the heroine and, by extension, your reader.

The Heart's Hope:
There has to be a reason that a successful woman would see something in who at first appears to be a total loser. Sprinkle throughout the first chapters, hints of his success. Whether its seeing him in a mysterious meeting, having him hide something he's working on, or hearing of his success in passing from others...there needs to be evidence that she sees and the reader sees of his potential.

This is where her heart's hope comes into play... This type of woman wants to feel a part of something and her helping him provides a sense of being connected and needed.

Also, if he's an artist and she is his muse, then she is halfway to being hooked because inspiring greatness in someone is a huge ego boost and draw.

***Character Bonus***
Because the Bad Boy with Potential is often already in the heroine's life in the form of a room mate, co-worker, or other peripheral position, this character has the added bonus of knowing how much of a nutter the heroine is and loving her anyway. He's proved his staying power. He loves her despite her flaws. That is always a good thing.

What about you? Can you name your favorite Bad Boy with Potential from movies or books?  

Until next time...Go Write!Publish Post

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tournament of Champions - Week 1

It's Finally Here!
Today I am hosting a game for the Tournament of Champions over at Clash of the Titles!  From October 10th to November 4th, join us for games, prizes, and the ultimate literary showdown!

The game today is to answer the question posed on Clash of the Titles about my book, Purple Knot.

Question: What is the nickname that Summer and Jimmy use for Reyna?  The answer can be found at my author site here.

Don't forget to leave your answer over at C.O.T.T. for a chance to win a $10.00 Amazon gift card!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

But I Thought I WAS Normal...?

Me Skyping with my brother.
Okay, so here's the thing. I often do things that I believe are perfectly normal only to have people arch their brows at yet another "strange" thing that I've done. Case in point, this past month my husband and I having discussed the health benefits, humane arguments, and ecological issues, have decided to become vegan.  

Now, this wasn't an arbitrary or random decision. We've been moving towards that for some why did I get all the tongue clicking, head-shaking, slow sighs?  No idea.

My daughter put it succinctly when she said, "The only odd thing left for you guys to do is to become nudists."

Really?  So my husband is Irish and I am Mexican...okay, so bi-racial marriage, but in southern California we are actually the majority. Its common with such a transient community to meet people from all around the world. Throw in the fact that I traveled a lot as a marine kid and it was inevitable that I meet someone from across the country. Not least to me.

We homeschool. seemed like the smart thing to do at the time. Eleven years later and we still love it. How can that be weird?

We've adopted four children. Well...we wanted a larger family and this is how we did it. Six kids total doesn't seem like a strange thing to me. Its not like we rate our own reality show. Yes its a little...chaotic. But we are happy and can that be odd?

On the Scorpios - researching a book.
I'm an author. Which I didn't realize was considered an "out of the box" profession until I heard my daughter use it as an excuse. "Yes, I'm late for class mom is a writer." The tutor actually nodded knowingly. Huh? Is it really that unusual?

This all brings me to writing. Doesn't it always? I struggled for a long time with 3rd person vs. 1st person. I even wrote a three book series (never published) in third person because that is what the conferences and books told me was the best way to write. It was normal.

After years of rejections and rewrites, I finally decided to write in the voice that came naturally to me. I wrote a romantic suspense in 1st person. Weird to write in that POV? Maybe. Unusual to have a romance in first person? No idea. What I DO know? It ended up being the first book my agent sold.

With so many opinions on how to break into the publishing industry, it can be confusing and downright disillusioning. And the question of voice and POV and genre...Oy Vey!  So many differing opinions. We have the tendency to lose our passion in the face of all those parameters. Whether they are real or not.

Barbara Nicolosi, one of my favorite writer/screen writers once said, "Though we are told to write what we know...we should actually write what our heart knows to be true."

Honor, sacrifice, true love, compassion, courage...these are the things of great stories. And THAT, my fellow lovers of the written word, is what people want.  Write a great story. Write something people can't put down.  That is, after all, how I pick a book. Does it grab me on the first page? Do I NEED to know what happens next?

Write what you'd love to read and you'll be fine. Its not weird...its your unique and valuable style.

Until next time...Go Write!